APN podcast special: Looking back at 2021

The year's final episode of All Points North looks at local election implications, the effects of—and responses to—global climate change, Covid-19's ups and downs, and much more.

Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

The big story of 2021 in Finland and around the world continued to be the coronavirus pandemic. But there was a lot more going on than that.

Throughout the year, the All Points North podcast tackled topics like the country's municipal elections, featuring exclusive, in-depth interviews in English (!) with the leaders of Finland's parliamentary parties.

The nine interviews—ranging from the former leader of the opposition Finns Party Jussi Halla-aho (on 11 February) all the way to the Social Democrats' Prime Minister Sanna Marin (on 27 May), and everyone in between—can be found on APN's webpage.

You can listen to the full podcast using the embedded player here, via Yle Areena, Spotify (siirryt toiseen palveluun), Apple Podcasts (siirryt toiseen palveluun) or on your usual podcast player using the RSS feed.

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Shady internships and foreigner wage gaps

One of the year's most-listened-to episodes of APN delved into the sometimes murky world of student internships. Often advertised as offering valuable real-life work experience, these arrangements are often a graduation requirement but usually offer little—to no financial compensation, which can bolster exploitation in the labor market.

APN spoke to Salla Hakoköngäs from a trade union-funded summer worker helpline to find out where interns worried about exploitation can turn.

We also met Susanna Bairoh, from engineering union TEK, who explained what people can do if they suspect they're being underpaid due to their nationality.

Banking headaches and Migri delays

This autumn APN asked why some Finnish banks were requiring customers to pay a hefty deposit to open an account—and why some banks were quicker than others to repay it when the account is closed.

Sami Tanskanen from the University of Eastern Finland told us that a number of factors make it challenging for foreign students to set up their bank accounts.

In April, we spoke to Charles Mathies, a US researcher living in Finland who caused a stir on social media about the long wait he endured at Migri for what turned out to be a very brief visit. We asked Mathies why he thought his story drew so much interest.

Climate change

In September we learned from author and Yle meteorologist Kerttu Kotakorpi how global climate change will affect Finland in coming years (spoiler alert, the outlook is not great). Then, the following month, we asked VATT research institute economist Marita Laukkanen if Finland was on track to meet its ambitious climate goals (spoiler alert, the outlook is not great).

Breakfastgate

In Finland at least, we can't talk about 2021 without mentioning a controversy that hung over the head of Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) for most of the summer—breakfastgate!

The scandal centred on breakfast and cold meal benefits the PM and her family received that they might not actually have been entitled to, resulting in widespread outrage on social media as well as heavy media coverage.

At the beginning of the summer, we heard from Yle political journalist Hannu Tikkala who explained why he thought public debate about the matter was a good thing.

Covid-19, 20, 21…

Of course a look back at last year would be lacking without discussing the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, nearly in its second year in Finland, Covid has taken a toll on people's health, front line workers as well as the economy—not to mention everyone's patience.

Over the course of the year we spoke with many experts about the coronavirus epidemic, including scientist Pirta Hotulainen who, along with a group of experts, were calling for a 'zero Covid' strategy at the beginning of the year.

In late May, HJK Helsinki football club CEO Aki Riihilahti told us about his frustrations with the government's coronavirus-related restrictions, which he characterised as uneven.

A vaccine researcher from health institute THL, Jonas Sivelä, told us early this month that he doesn't agree with the idea of forcing people who are hesitant about Covid vaccines to take them, preferring a softer approach.

Finally, we heard fromYle journalist Satu Miettinenwho explained what she saw at Päijät-Häme Central Hospital's Covid ward in the city of Lahti.

It may not be the cheeriest way to finish up, but that's kind of where we are.

Happy 2022!

Everyone at Yle News and APN wishes you, our audience, a very happy and healthy New Year and we look forward to reconnecting in 2022!

This week's show was presented, produced and edited by Mark B. Odom and the audio engineer was Anders Johansson. If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, just contact us via WhatsApp on +358 44 421 0909, on our Facebook or Twitter accounts, or at yle.news@yle.fi and allpointsnorth@yle.fi.